Eurogamer details a bittersweet story of one Total War: Rome 2 fan who was immortalized in the game, but the 24-year-old named "James" who inspired developers Creative Assembly when he visited the studio, would later lose his fight with liver cancer. James's visit to the studio was part of an effort put on by the Willow Foundation, a charity established by Arsenal goalkeeping hero Bob Wilson and his wife in memory of their daughter.
According to Eurogamer's telling, last year the 24-year-old got to visit Creative Assembly's HQ in Horsham, UK and to play an alpha of the game – even before the media got to see it. James toured the studio the day after the game was officially announced and he saw every aspect of the game's development, played very early code and even and interviewed key people on the development team. He even offered some input of his own to the developers and by the end of his visit he inspired Creative Assembly to include him in the game. While James has passed on, he will live on in the game as an "important-looking Roman soldier in the game, his digital likeness recreated superbly for the Siege of Carthage," according to Eurogamer.
Total War community manager Craig Laycock shared an account of the day with Eurogamer, saying that Creative Assembly was "moved and humbled" to have James at the studio and that he was "inundated with emails [from co-workers] offering help with James' day."
"What really struck me was how my colleagues reacted to James coming in," said Laycock. "I was inundated with emails offering help with James' day. The tour organised itself, as the guys around me scrambled to show James what's going into making Rome 2. "
"When I recently learned that James had died, it was devastating," he said. "Even though I had only spent a few hours in his company, it was absolutely devastating, because he was able to show us all here in the studio how passionate he was for our games. And although he won't get the chance to see Rome 2 released, he will live on in some small way in our game – and every time I see him I'll be reminded of what a great guy he was."
Laycock closed by saying that James reminded him and his co-workers what is best about making video games: when fans truly enjoy them and stay with them.
Total War: Rome 2 will be out later this year.
If you would like to help the Willow charity continue its good work, you can give a donation here.